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How to Take Guitar Lessons at Home

How to Take Guitar Lessons at Home

By Brad Tolinski

The guitar is the ultimate rock and roll instrument. Learn a few chords and you can be playing dozens of classic songs by your favorite bands in months—not years. However, it doesn’t happen by magic. You have to be willing to learn some basic techniques and practice a few times a week—even every day, if you can. But if you love music and you want to play an instrument, it can be surprisingly easy.

Can I Teach Myself To Play Guitar?

People often wonder if they can teach themselves how to play. My answer is, have you ever heard of Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, B.B. King, Kurt Cobain or John Lennon? All of these legends never took a traditional lesson in their lives. They simply learned from friends that played guitar or watched other musicians and did their best to mimic them.

In many cases, the process of taking online guitar lessons is very similar to how those players learned, and there are seemingly countless online guitar lessons you can watch for free or cheap. In fact, there has never been a better time to learn electric guitar or acoustic guitar than right here, right now.

Do I need formal guitar lessons to learn to play guitar?

It depends what you mean by formal lesson. I consider anyone that can show me how to play something cool on the guitar a formal lesson, whether it’s an online guitar lesson on how to play a complicated tune like Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” or something quicker like learning a new chord. The best guitar lessons are often the simplest ones.

Do online guitar lessons work?

The great thing about online guitar lessons is if you don’t like one teacher, you can try another until you find one that is right for you. There are several great websites that focus on how to play guitar for beginners (more on that below). With the right instruction, practice and motivation, you will certainly see your skills develop.

What are some of the best apps and websites to learn to play guitar?

There are a number of terrific websites and apps for online guitar lessons. Truefire offers over 40,000 of some of the best guitar lessons for any skill level. If you want to learn electric guitar and acoustic guitar, Guitar Tricks offers how to play guitar for beginners with great shortcuts to over 1,000 classic rock songs. JamPlay has a stunning array of lessons including special courses for those that have “never played before” and those that are “self-taught.” ArtistWorks is also a fantastic resource for learning from actual pros like Paul Gilbert.

Another cool app is our own Spark EDU which can analyze any song you can find on YouTube and very quickly generate a chord sheet so you can play along.

Of course, you can simply Google “how to play guitar for beginners YouTube,” and literally you’ll be flooded with hundreds of free options. We particularly like the guitar lesson below from Andy Guitar. YouTube guitar lessons may not offer the same structure and consistency as the lesson websites mentioned above, but they are still worth checking out, especially if you’re on a budget.

Should I take guitar lessons on acoustic or electric?

It doesn’t matter which instrument you take lessons on. Play the instrument you have—or the one you want to learn. Much of what you learn will apply to both.

What do I need to take guitar lessons?

For most rock and pop music all you’ll really need is an eclectic guitar and a pick (we recommend a medium weight pick to start). If you are interested in classical styles, you’ll need a nylon-string guitar and just your fingers. But we also highly recommend getting a guitar tuner, which you can download for free on your phone in the app store.

 

Is it ever too late to take guitar lessons?

Of course not! No matter what your age is, it’s always good to learn new things. Music is a beautiful thing and we can never have too many beautiful things in our lives. Plus, there are many other benefits of learning an instrument; it’s good for brain health, and it’s a great way to de-stress!

Do I need an amp to take guitar lessons?

You don’t need to own an amp to take online guitar lessons—so no excuses! This is especially true if you are learning acoustic guitar or acoustic-electric guitar. While you don’t necessarily need an amplifier to get started with lessons if you're focusing on electric guitar, you’ll definitely want one as you develop and improve. Afterall, half of the fun of playing electric guitar is being able to crank it up!

Spark by Positive Grid

We highly recommend checking out our Spark amp, and for several reasons. With its accompanying app, you get access to over 10,000 tones, from the heaviest metal to the sweetest blues. Plus, Spark’s Auto Chords feature automatically displays guitar chords for millions of songs (a great way to learn new material!). Most remarkably, with Smart Jam technology, the amp and app work together to learn your style and feel, and then generate authentic bass and drums to accompany you. Spark will not only help you to learn, but you’ll sound great the whole time you’re practicing. Happy learning!


Brad Tolinski is perhaps best known for his work as the editor-in-chief of Guitar World Magazine for 25 years. He is also the author of Light and Shade: Conversations with Jimmy Page (Crown); and Play It Loud: An Epic History of the Style, Sound and Revolution of the Electric Guitar (Doubleday), which was the basis for a 2019 guitar-focused exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Most recently he edited the 50th Anniversary Commemorative Issue of CREEM magazine, and his latest book Eruption: Conversations with Eddie Van Halen (Hachette) will be coming out in October 2021.

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